Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variation in living organisms, viewed within a given habitat, ecosystem or in the world as a whole. The concept is usually applied to the species diversity, although the notion of genetic biodiversity is applied to the variation in genes within an individual species. While most people think of rainforests as loci of great biodiversity, biomes such as oceans and grasslands are the likely repositories for even greater variation. Retention of diverse biota is important, since intact ecosystems are thought to be essential for provision of ecosystem services to humans, including maintenance of a diverse foodbank, pollination, clean water, flood control, pest control, waste decomposition, biomass energy resources and climate stability. Biodiversity is presently critical since we live in the era of the Mass Holocene Extinction, a period of species loss caused by man, and unrivaled in rate of species loss. Although the number of total species numbers in the tens of millions, most have not yet even been described. The extinction of a species is almost always related to destruction of habitat or man-made pollution.

  • Coral reefs (collection) Featured Article Coral reefs (collection) Coral reefs (collection)

    Coral reefs are one of the most diverse, complex, aesthetically appealing and threatened ecosystems on earth. This collection will include information on a wide range of topics... More »

  • Crustacea Featured Article Crustacea Crustacea

    Crustaceans are invertebrates belonging to the phylum Arthropoda and include such familiar groups as barnacles, crabs, crayfish, lobster, water fleas and pill bugs. Crustaceans... More »

  • Ecoregions of Utah (EPA) Featured Article Ecoregions of Utah (EPA) Ecoregions of Utah (EPA)

    The Ecoregions of Utah comprise a diverse set of plant communities and geomorphic provinces. Ecoregions denote areas of general similarity in ecosystems and in the type,... More »

  • Habitat fragmentation Featured Article Habitat fragmentation Habitat fragmentation

    Habitat fragmentation involves alteration of habitat resulting in spatial separation of habitat units from a previous state of greater continuity. ... More »

  • Virus Featured Article Virus Virus

    A virus is a microscopic organism that can replicate only inside the cells of a host organism. Most viruses are so tiny they are only observable with at least a conventional... More »

  • South China Sea Featured Article South China Sea South China Sea

      The South China Sea is a critical world trade route and a potential source of... More »

  • Devonian Featured Article Devonian Devonian

    The Devonian period is a geologic time interval within the Paleozoic Era spanning from the end of the Silurian Period, aapproximately 417 million years before present (BP), to... More »

  • Spinner dolphin Featured Article Spinner dolphin Spinner dolphin

    The Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris), a marine mammal in the family of oceanic dolphins,  gets its name from the spinning behavior it shows when it leaps out of... More »

  • Permian Featured Article Permian Permian

    The Permian period lasted from 290 to 248 million years ago and was the last period of the Paleozoic Era. The distinction between the Paleozoic and the Mesozoic is made at the... More »

Recently Updated
India’s Western Ghats: Biodiversity and Medicial Plants Last Updated on 2014-08-20 14:42:16 India’s Western Ghats is a rolling mountain range containing such great biodiversity that it has been named as one of the world's eight ‘hottest hotspots of biological diversity. Spread along the entire west coast of India, this mountain range contains a large proportion of the country's plant and animal species, many of which are endemic. Over 5000 species of flowering plants, 139 species of mammals, 508 species of birds, including 22 endemics, 225 species of reptiles, and 179 species of amphibians live in the region. Location Starting from the northern part of Mumbai, this extensive mountain range extends over Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu to the southern tip of India. Wildlife The northern part of the range contains almost half of the reptiles, one third of the plants, and more than three fourths of the amphibians found in India. The southwestern Ghats... More »
Alberta Mountain forests Last Updated on 2014-08-10 23:19:28 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Alberta Mountain forests ecoregion lies entirely within Canada and almost fully within the province of Alberta, but hugs the Alberta-British Columbia border from Banff northward to Jasper and Kakwa. The ecoregion is classified within the Temperate Coniferous Forests biome. Mean annual temperature in the Eastern Continental Ranges is 2.5°C, mean summer temperature is 12°C and mean winter temperature is -7.5°C. Precipitation increases from east to west and also with elevation, from 600-800 millimetres (mm) per year. Valley regions are marked by warm, dry summers and mild, snowy winters, and subalpine areas have cool, showery summers and cold, snowy winters. This region covers the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, incorporating the eastern flanks of the Continental Ranges. The major peaks cluster... More »
Cactaceae: The cactus family Last Updated on 2014-08-07 15:56:00 The Cactaceae is a family belonging to the order Caryophyllales.  Cacti typically are found in  dry and arid desert or semi-desert regions  with high average daytime temperatures and cold nights, and high evaporation rates.  Cacti range from Canada to Argentina, predominantly occurring in the warm and arid reaches of the continents of both North and South America across a wide range of different habitats like deserts, sandy coastal stretches, scrublands, dry deciduous forests, high alpine steppes and tropical rain forests (Barthlott and Hunt, 1993; Gibson and Nobel, 1986; Nyffeler, 2001). The main diversity centers are Mexico and south-west USA, central Andes, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina with Mexico being the richest and most endemic region (Boyle and Anderson, 2002; Ortega-Baes and Godínez-Alvarez, 2006). The family is... More »
Amaranthaceae: The pigweed family Last Updated on 2014-08-07 15:27:30 Amaranthaceae is a plant family in the order Caryophyllales that is native to tropical America and Africa, ranging between tropics and sub-tropics to more temperate regions. The family is believed to have originated in either the southwestern region of the United States, Latin America, or Africa. The Amaranthaceae family is dominated by herbs but also includes vines, shrubs and trees, and is comprised of approximately 800 species represented by 60 plus genera and broadly divided into two sub families (Amaranthoideae and Gomphrenoideae). Physical Description Leaves are mostly simple and entire, non-stipulate, phyllotaxy is alternate/opposite. Flowers are regular, cyclic, tiny, and characterized by spiny perianth with conspicuous bracts and bractlets and are either unisexual/bisexual (hermaphrodite), solitary/aggregated into inflorescence (spikes/cymes/heads) (Fig 1). Calyx... More »
Cucurbitaceae: The amazing world of cucurbits Last Updated on 2014-08-05 15:24:15 The Cucurbitaceae family represents over 90 genera and approximately 960 species. The distribution is predominantly tropical and subtropical, with only a few species occurring in the temperate regions.  Plants are monoecious/dioecious and have tendrils (usually one per node), are either annual or perennial, and are typically herbaceous/woody/vines/climbers/trailers/lianas, or sometimes trees. Shoots are angular, herbaceous/woody/succulent with stem anatomy showing conspicuous bicollateral vascular bundles that are easy to identify even without staining. Leaves are alternate, spiral, petiolate, membranaceous/succulent, without stipules. They can be simple or compound (ternate/palmate), have margins with small glandular teeth (hydathodes), are hairy (glandular/eglandular), and have cystolith (crystals) present. Flowers are solitary or aggregated into inflorescences... More »